OMAHA (Seminoles.com) – Playing in the 1,000th game in College World Series history, head coach Mike Martin and Florida State outlasted Cal State Fullerton, 6-4, Monday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park to stave off elimination for the fifth time in the NCAA Tournament. Drew Mendoza hit a home run to lead off the sixth inning, and three FSU relievers combined to allow just one hit, one walk and no runs over the final 3.1 innings.
“It was a heck of a ballgame,” Martin said after the game. “It was a game in which Drew [Parrish] pitched very well. I thought the composure and tenacity was right there. He showed that he was not intimidated by the surroundings or the excitement.”
Florida State (46-22) scored a run in the second, fourth and sixth innings to build a 3-1 lead, but Cal State Fullerton (39-24) scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, the last two on Timmy Richards' two-run home run that ended the day for FSU starter Drew Parrish. FSU answered with a three-run inning of its own, aided by three consecutive walks from Titan pitching, as Chase Haney (3-2) won his first game since April 28 against Virginia.
Steven Wells gave FSU a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI single. Drew Mendoza earned his first of two walks on the day and reached second on a failed pick-off attempt from Titans catcher Chris Hudgins. Matt Henderson moved Mendoza to third base on his ninth sacrifice bunt of the year before Wells singled to left field.
“I'm just excited to be here,” Henderson said. “Throughout the season, we've all had our adversities and challenges and we persevered through it, and that's been our mentality.”
In the bottom of the third, Fullerton loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and a bunt single. The Titans tied the score on Scott Hurst's sacrifice fly, but Sahid Valenzuela grounded into a 5-4-3 double play that ended the inning.
The Seminoles were in a similar situation in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with no outs on Cal Raleigh's double, Mendoza's second walk and Henderson's single to left field. Wells tallied his second RBI on a sacrifice fly to center field that allowed Raleigh to score just before Valenzuela applied the tag. Wells had two runs batted in during the regular season, and has six in nine postseason games.
Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook pulled starter John Gavin after Wells' at-bat, bringing in Gavin Velasquez. Velasquez sandwiched a walk to Taylor Walls between strikeouts to J.C. Flowers and Dylan Busby to limit the damage to just one run.
Gavin finished with 3.1 innings pitched, three hits and one earned run (two total), walking four and striking out one.
Mendoza took the third pitch of the six inning off Velasquez into the FSU bullpen in right field for his ninth home run of the season, pushing FSU's lead to 3-1. In five games in the College World Series, teams have combined to hit just five home runs, with two coming from FSU: Mendoza's sixth-inning shot and Busby's home run to center field Saturday against LSU. Richards' has two for Cal State Fullerton as well.
“I got just enough of it,” Mendoza said of his home run that cleared the right field wall. “I thought I was going to get a double or triple; I was running hard out of the box. I thought he (rightfielder Hunter Cullen) caught it. But I was glad I got enough of it, and it was a really good feeling.”
After retiring 10 straight hitters, Parrish ran into problems in the sixth inning as the Titans scored three runs off the freshman left-hander. Dillon Persinger hit a two-out RBI double that fell just short of a diving Flowers, and Richards hit his sixth home run of the year that gave Cal State Fullerton its first lead of the game at 4-3.
Parrish was pulled after 5.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on four hits, walking three and striking out four.
Haney entered and forced a Taylor Bryant fly out to end the inning.
Jack Pabich allowed an infield single to Walls and a double off left fielder Chris Prescott's glove from Dylan Busby that put two runners on with no outs for Jackson Lueck. Blake Workman entered out of the Titan bullpen and intentionally walked Lueck to load the bases, followed by back-to-back walks on 3-2 counts to Quincy Nieporte and Raleigh that gave FSU a 5-4 lead.
With the bases loaded and still no outs, Fullerton called its closer, Brett Conine, into the game. Conine got Mendoza swinging, but Henderson legged out an infield single that scored Lueck and made the score 6-4 FSU.
After FSU regained its two-run lead, Wells grounded into an inning-ending double play. Pabich (1-3) finished with two earned runs allowed on two hits without recording an out.
Haney struck out Hudgins to open the bottom of the seventh, retiring both batters faced and improving to 3-2 on the season.
Alec Byrd entered and got the first four hitters out before Valenzuela reached on a fielding error. Drew Carlton stepped in and forced a Persinger fly out to end the eighth inning. In the ninth, Carlton worked around a single and walk to strike out pinch hitter Hank LoForte looking to end the game and earn his seventh save of the year.
“You've just got to go in there and get outs as quick as you can,” Carlton said. “Get your team back to the dugout. We have a great lineup, 1 through 9. Knowing them, they're going to do their job and I have to do mine and get outs for us.”
“Drew is a great competitor,” Martin said of Carlton. “He is a really great teammate. He's a guy that has the same demeanor every single time he goes out there. I had a coach come up to me, when Drew walked one in the ninth, and said, ‘Who do you want to get loose?'
“I said, ‘Nobody. This is his game.'”
FSU will play a second elimination game against the loser of the Oregon State and LSU game (played later Monday) Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.